Hank Hanegraaff, host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, explains that after John the Baptist was imprisoned, Jesus departed to Galilee in fulfillment of prophecy: “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death a great light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16, quoting Isaiah 9:1–2). Why were the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali in perpetual darkness? The answer is that their land was in the far north of Canaan. This was the direction by which foreign invaders would enter the Land of Promise. They could not come from the South or the West because that would mean traversing desert or sea (Mediterranean). First the Assyrians and later the Babylonians—two nations that plundered, raped, and pillaged their way not only through the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, but through the land given to all 12 tribes of Israel. And yet as Isaiah predicted, the savagery of the Babylonians would give way to the Babe of Bethlehem—the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, and the ultimate Prince of Peace. With Christ’s coming a great light would illumine those who huddled in the lands of darkness. God promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”—and such blessings and cursings pertain not simply to the faithful remnant of ethnic Israel but to true Israel, which consists of every person who through faith has been adopted into the family of God. Also, Jesus like John makes repentance central to the message of salvation. “Repentance” means “a continual turning from sin.” Indeed, Christ saves us by grace through faith and continual repentance.
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